Issue 509

Image courtesy Eugene Chan

The Urban Future of Work

How denser, more urban workplaces will strengthen the Bay Area’s economic competitiveness

SPUR Report

High unemployment rates and slow employment growth continue to threaten our economy. Once-successful sectors are in decline. Even the workplace is in transition. New technologies and ways of working have disrupted everything from the speed of a typical product cycle to the amount of real estate a company needs.

But as our economy changes, the emerging story is also a positive one. While many formerly robust industries are struggling, the Bay Area’s knowledge services sector is growing quickly, led by companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. These firms are finding that they need the vibrancy and density of an urban-style environment in order to collaborate, innovate and stay competitive. Despite technology that allows us to work remotely, the role of the office is becoming even more important.

In this SPUR report, we make the case that there is a strong link between density and job growth. In fact, we believe that locating jobs closer to transit — and closer to one another — will be key to the Bay Area’s long-term economic growth. We recommend 20 strategies for increasing density, strengthening the regional economy and promoting job growth.

The SPUR Board of Directors reviewed, debated and adopted this report as official policy on September 21, 2011.

The Urban Future of Work was made possible by the generous support of the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation and the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation.

SPUR staff: Egon Terplan

Primary authors: Laura Crescimano, Mark Shorett, Egon
Terplan, Tony Vi

SPUR committee: Alexa Arena, Andy Barnes, Chris Block, Larry Burnett, Jerry Goldberg, Anne Halsted, Aidan Hughes, Ken Kirkey, Jed Kolko, John Kriken, Gabriel Metcalf, Tomiquia Moss, Jeanne Myerson, Joan Price, Michael Reilly, Libby Seifel, Lynn Sedway, Paul Sedway, Brian Stokle, Michael Teitz, Will Travis, Kate White

Resources and reviewers: Dena Belzer, Anthony Bruzzone, Justin Fried, Eduardo Guerrero, Hans Larsen, Sarah Karlinsky, Kevin Mathy, Kurt McCulloch, Sujata Srivastava, Rod Stevens, Gervais Tompkin, Kim Walesh, Jessica Zenk

Special recognition for research, writing and assistance: Ed Parillon, Jon Rogers